I passed a poignant milestone last Friday. After close to nine years at University College Cork, and in the city of Cork, I’m moving on. Over the last few years I’d seen many colleagues depart but now it was my turn to go through the ritual of saying my goodbyes and packing the PhD’s worth of mess that had accumulated on my desk into those ubiquitous cardboard boxes. With a full car I made the familiar drive home across the county bounds to Killarney to make the final preparations for travelling to the United States to begin my year as a Fulbright Scholar at Oregon State University.
I arrived in Cork as a naïve 18-year-old with few expectations other than a vague idea of wanting to study civil engineering. Things went to plan and I’m leaving with that degree, but along the way I’ve been enriched in more ways than I could have imagined. The experiences I’ve had there have undoubtedly shaped me as a person. Cork is where I was introduced to wave energy, the area I’ve chosen to try to forge a career in. Most importantly, through study, work and sport I’ve been exposed to some wonderful and inspiring people and made lifelong friends. As a Kerryman I’m hesitant to give the place any credit but I have to concede that Cork has been good to me.
I don’t know where I’ll end up when I return from the US. Given the level of activity that currently exists in UCC in the area of marine renewable energy it’s entirely possible that I will find a position to bring me back there, but equally I may choose to follow a different path and will become at best an infrequent visitor. Cork may cease to have a central presence in my life but will always have a place in my heart.